Cheltenham-Early thoughts

Well boys and girls, seeing that we are less than four weeks away, what are your opinions…

Champion hurdle:
Binocular looks like the one they all have to beat but at 5/4 there is little or no real value…Reckon that Osana will fun a big race again this year after finishing second last year, around 9-1 at the moment…Punjabi is onteher horse that is worth an e.w bet at 14s…

Queen mother champion chase:
Looks like Master Minded should win this for the second year in a row…1/3 at the moment, not much else in the field to beat it…Big Zeb or tidal Bay e.w

World Hurdle:
Wide open contest this year…Kasbah bliss was unlucky to finsih second last year and won’t be far off this time around…Will Hardy Eustace be entered in this, if so he could well be worth a few bob each way…

Gold cup:

Three words for you…KAUTO, KAUTO, KAUTO…Get on

Anyone else any fancies…If i get a chance sometime next week I shall cast my eye over the likes of the Ryanair, supreme novices, triumph and the arkle…

I might put a few quid each way on Master Minded. Know of any bookies who’ll offer a place only bet on him?

Paddy Power will lay you up to 20 on it.

will be laying tatanen in the arkle and diamond harry in the ballymore.

I can’t seem to make my mind up-if only there was a cheltenham preview event to help me with my choices…

Cheltenham getting close now. I’ll post up my own thoughts during the week for what it’s worth, when i’ve had a look at the runners and riders.

Also, are we doing anything in the vbookie for it? Granted, it’s difficult to put up seperate races due to odds changing etc but maybe lads ye could put up something like top jockey, top trainer, no. of irish winners. These could be nicked from the paddy power website.

Voy Pos Ustedes is my nap of the festival in the Ryanair chase…Win back the money I lost on him last year…

My thoughts, I fooking hate Cheltenham.

[quote=“The Dunph”]Cheltenham getting close now. I’ll post up my own thoughts during the week for what it’s worth, when i’ve had a look at the runners and riders.

Also, are we doing anything in the vbookie for it? Granted, it’s difficult to put up seperate races due to odds changing etc but maybe lads ye could put up something like top jockey, top trainer, no. of irish winners. These could be nicked from the paddy power website.[/quote]

could just put up the races and bet SP on everything on the day

We need to put up the prices when we put the events up. Can’t just put SPs up afterwards, remember the mess Bandage made of Offaly - he changed the price from 6/1 to 1/6 but anyone who bet at 6/1 got that price honoured.

Can certainly do the stuff before the meeting starts like top trainer and top jockey etc.

Can also probably do the big races now with odds as they are at the moment with the market closing on Sunday or something so people can have a vbet at the current prices but can’t take advantage of those prices during the festival itself.

Review of what went down at the Dunraven arms Adare last night for the
Cheltenham preview night.

Panel was Alan King (AK), Richard Johnson (RJ), Christian Williams (CW),
Andrew Mac (AM), Eric MacNamara (EM) & Willie Power (WP) (Bookie).
Presenter was David Duggan (DD) from ATR.


AM said while cousin vinny is the one to beat torphichen who he rides
gets an 8lb allowance for being only 4 and has to have a right good
EM tentatively gave cousin vinny
CW gave torphichen to win but fancied red moloney as an e/w bet
RT said mad max is the one to beat
AK couldn’t have mad max at all and fancied torphichen. Does fancy his
own medermit be for a place if the ground is good
WP isn’t having cousin vinny at all and went for torphichen


CW is on I’msingingtheblues and is very hopeful
RJ rides Planet of Sound and said it was one of his best rides of the
EM Forpaddydeplasterer needs good ground so will go with follow the plan
AM couldn’t have forpaddy at all and at a price likes golden silver
AK plummed for Kalahari king but not with much confidence
DD put up Kalahari king as his banker of the meeting and dismissed
tatenen with distain

Champion Hurdle

AK Binocular an exceptional animal but katchit will the there at the
last - they might put blinkers on him.
AM Osana a good bet to chase binocular home
CW Celestial Halo forgotten horse and will put it up to binocular
RJ Snap Tie very over priced so back e/w
EM Katchit super e/w value
WP Osana the e/w bet

Much ridicule pointed at the way of crack away jack who ‘wouldn’t win if
he started today’ and although sizing Europe did a savage piece of work
on gallops AM just dosent think he’s the same horse. Not one mention of
brave inca at all.


CW Diamond Harry a very worth favourite
AK Karabak (who was just bought by JP) will run a huge race and is one
of his best chances for the festival
RJ Karabak best bet as he thinks diamond harry is too big for Cheltenham
WP China Rock e/w as Mouse Morris doesn’t bring them over for ‘the beer’


EM Ruby told him he really fancies cooldine
AM Cooldine will be awful hard to beat
RJ Carruthers if he runs will lead from front and be hard to catch
CW Carruthers
AK Gone to Lunch to beat Carruthers
DD Casey Jones e/w

WP Cooldine will be a big hit for the bookies but should win

Champion Chase

They only talked about who would be second to master minded as he’s a

CW Likes briarieus
EM Well Chief about a stone better than everthing else if running
AM Briarieus - big zeb hasn’t a hope of getting up the hill
AK Well Chief
RJ just watch the race not worth betting
WP well chief will be second by a long way


This was an Irish love in with the brits having very little interest in
the chat

EM if mullins knew his best he wouldn’t be talking about running 7 or 8.
Shinrock Paddy to win
AM Dunguib or Right of Passage e/w if he runs
AK not a race he looks at as the winners don’t train on bit gary moore
the best equipped of the uk trainers so keep an eye on what he runs
RJ whatever ruby rides
CW knows nothing about the race
DD like henry king from victor dartnalls as an outsider


AK Voy Por Ustedes ticks all the boxes
RJ Voy Por with Monets Garden e/w
EM Voy Por all the way. Irish Horses haven’t a hope in god
AM Voy Por without at doubt. Our vic e/w
CW Voy Por a complete certainty
WP Voy Por the festival banker


EM Lethal Weapon trained for race but Jumbo Rio the one to watch
AM Jumbo Rio great chance but needs to improve jumping
AK Walkon 7lb better off with zaynar so great chance. Avoid starluck
and would be amazed with an irish winner
CW Walkon as he schooled him
RJ Zaynar will take all the beating
DD Lethal Weapon
WP Ebadyian e/w

World Hurdle

DD started by slating the French jockey on Kasbah Bliss and the jockeys
fairly ganged up on him and said he was talking nonsense considering
he’s ridden more winners in france than anyone else. For some reason he
never asked RJ his opinion which as it turns out is quite annoying (see

DD Punchestowns to surprise Kasbah
CW Kasbah will take all the beating. He’s on mobasher who has an e/w
AK Nicholls very bullish about Big Bucks and he wouldn’t be getting
carried away with Kasbah
AM Powerstation a great e/w bet but Kasbah to win
EM he told AM that Powerstation hasn’t a hope of finishing in top 4 and
went on to say that geraghty really fancies punchestowns
WP Kasbah to win

Albert Bartlett (why they chose this to preview I don’t know bar the
fact that alan king really fancies his one)

AK Bensalem potentially a very good animal
CW Pride of Dulcote
RJ Look at Tara Blaise e/w
WP Bensalem will go off favourite

Gold Cup

All seemed very excited about it being the most open in years because of
all the questions re form etc and they were united in thinking denman is
past it.

CW rides Neptune Collonges and is really sweet on him but fears Nicholls
might have kauto primed this year
RJ he’d choose Kauto of all the Nicholls runners but if the ground is
quick albertas run is great e/w value
AK Stats are all against Kauto coming back after losing last year so
will side with Exotic Dancer e/w
AM 2 horse race with Neptune a much better value bet than kauto
EM Exotic Dancer only one with a chance to split Neptune and Kauto
WP Exotic Dancer much better value bet than Neptune

It finished quite quickly and bit unorganised so we didn’t get naps as
such. He asked the jockeys for their best rides and the rest for best

Best Ride

CW Neptune Collonges (and he plans to make a race of it to test Kauto
and Denman)
RJ Fair Along in the World Hurdle (This is the annoying thing as he
never had a chance to explain why)
AM Osana

Best Bet

EM Voy Por Ustedes
AK Voy Por Ustedes
WP They’ll try to get binocular
DD Kalahari King

Exeter Racecourse Cheltenham Festival Preview Night - 27th February 2009

Panel: Phillip Hobbs (PH), David Pipe (DP), Paul Nicholls (PN), Harry Findlay (HF),
Andrew King (AK) and hosted by Zoey Bird (ZB).

A good crowd of around 150 attended the first of the ten preview nights that will be
covered in this service. Harry Findlay was the star of the show with his upfront views on
everything that was asked of him while Zoey Bird was in good form as the host. Not all the
races were covered, in fact only ten were featured.

ZB: Welcome to Exeter this evening and let’s get the panel’s thoughts on the lead up to the
PN: Very much looking forward to it but you can never be too confident!
HF: Much less pressure this year due to Denman.
DP: We’ve hit form at a decent point, probably got a similar team to last year although it
would be nice to win Dad’s race (The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap).
PH: Not got as strong a squad as Paul or David but we’ve a couple of decent e/w shots, I’d
settle for one winner now though.


DP: Torphichen is rock solid and he has a good chance as he’s done nothing wrong. AP
(McCoy) was very impressed with him at Sandown but owner Thomas Barr will decide if
he runs here or in the Triumph.
ZB: Is Cousin Vinny value?
HF: I lumped on when he fell in the race Pandorama won so he’s not a lucky horse for me!
He’s not really value. Red Moloney for me e/w at a nice price.
ZB: Phillip, what about Copper Bleu?
PH: I like him, although he is still a bit raw. I was pleased with his run behind Master Of
Arts at Doncaster and he has an e/w chance.
DP: Master Of Arts will probably go for the Triumph. He was top class on the flat and you
couldn’t help but be impressed with his Doncaster win.
AK: Cousin Vinny is a worthy favourite and he’ll take the beating.
HF: I wish I owned Mad Max as he’ll go close before chasing next year.


ZB: Tells us about Tatenen Paul…
PN: He hasn’t beaten much thus far and although he wasn’t great in Ireland when he got
beat there were excuses. Softer the better for him so the ground on the first day should be
fine. The faster the pace the better as well and he has a real chance.
ZB: And I’msingingtheblues…?
PN: He worked well this morning and I’ll be running both. I can’t have Calgary Bay , his
form isn’t great. He’s a decent horse but not for me. Planet Of Sound (trained by Hobbs )
is the danger.
PH: I want good ground for my chap! Travels well and has enough speed for this race. If
it’s soft ground we may wait for the Grand Annual on Friday.
AK: Tatenen has done nothing wrong because Ireland didn’t work out for him. Planet Of
Sound is the danger if the ground is good.
HF: I’m biased towards Tatenen because all summer the big players have had a very
strong opinion about him. Calgary Bay is better than Paul thinks while Kalahari King would
have a chance.


ZB: Is Binocular value at evens?
HF: I’m getting stuck in! He’s in a different league this fellow. I don’t think there has been
any class in this race for years but this guy stinks of it. He’s a certainty.
ZB: Osana?
DP: He’ll come on for the run at Sandown so I was pleased with his effort there as he’s a
hard horse to get fit. He’s had a nice gap since, well on course and we fancy him. If the
Ascot Binocular turns up then he’ll be hard to beat. Ashkazar has a bit to find but he’s still
unexposed and would be shorter but for his run at Ascot earlier this year, which you can
PN: I was impressed with both Osana and Celestial Halo at Sandown and my guy has
improved since then to give us a real chance.
AK: This is a cracking race. Binocular shouldn’t be so short, I’ve a doubt about him coming
up the hill and I’ve laid him. Osana, Celestial Halo and Ashkazar are worthy opponents
and I’ve backed Ashkazar.


ZB: I like Karabak here but the price has gone thanks to JP (McManus) buying him.
HF: Diamond Harry for me. No reason to oppose him, double him up with Bensalem
(Albert Bartlett) and you’ve got a 20/1 double. Paul Barber has been trying to buy
Bensalem for the last two years so he’s got plenty of ability. Their form is collated and it’s a
sneaky double.
AK: I’m a Diamond Harry fan and agree with what Harry says about the double.


PN: I’m a Man Utd fan!
HF: You are now Sir Alex ( Ferguson ) owns What A Friend!
PN: What A Friend was bred locally and I bought him after winning his bumper at Newton
Abbot. He’s 2 from 2 this season and goes very well fresh so I’m very happy. He’s a hold
up horse so that brings its own problems.
ZB: Cooldine? Casey Jones? Carruthers?
PN: All very good horses, Ruby (Walsh) will probably ride Cooldine so Sam (Thomas) will
be on mine, which I’m more than happy about. I’m just worrying about my horse.
PH: Wouldn’t be sure we’ll run Massini’s Maguire. He’s entered in 4 races but I just doubt
he’ll get three miles on soft ground.
HF: Very open race but the handling of Carruthers is strange. This guy is a proper RSA
horse and I can’t believe they won’t run him, preferring instead to wait another year for the
Festival. This race is made for him.
AK: Gone To Lunch e/w. A real grinder who won’t be out the first three. Massive e/w bet.


PN: Master Minded is stronger than last year and he’ll be hard to beat. He’s only 6 and
very uncomplicated.
HF: All positive since last year. Nothing can beat him. Should be about 1/6 but he’s 1/3.
Lump On!
DP: Better than putting your money in the bank! Well Chief goes there, touch wood. He’s
in good form and he’s the only horse that could maybe give Master Minded half a race.
He’s top class on merit.
AK: Master Minded is a certainty, Well Chief the only danger on his best form but that’s a
long shot.


ZB: Voy Por Ustedes will be gunning for this…
HF: I’m a Tidal Bay fan but the vibes are bad. Not keen on Voy Por at a short price.
DP: We were out of form in the King George so forget Our Vic’s run in that. He goes well
fresh so all roads lead to this. Voy Por is the one to beat but we have a good chance,
especially as the race could cut up.
ZB: What about Gwanako Paul?
PN: Probably run but he’s got an impossible task to beat Voy Por. The Topham (at Aintree)
will be next.
AK: Monet’s Garden is only fair at 20s and Alan King thinks Voy Por is his bet of the


ZB: Harry, is Kasbah Bliss another short one for you?
HF: He won’t get beat, he looked a proper tool up at Haydock last time out. I’m against
Punchestowns as the form of his Ascot win is poor.
PN: When Big Bucks has raced over three miles or more he’s only been beaten once,
when falling in the Hennessy. He’s quirky so not sure how much ability he truly has. He’s
only 6 and improving.
PH: Fair Along is a credit to himself. The switch back to hurdles has restored his
confidence and he’s improved massively as a result. Good ground will really help and he
has an e/w chance.
AK: Fair Along amazes me! Kasbah Bliss is all class and as for Punchestowns, well I’d be
worried about the form of the (Nicky) Henderson yard.


ZB: Zaynar anyone?
AK: He’s started to drift which is worrying as he’s part owned by Victor Chandler. Although
I’m not saying there’s a link!!!
DP: This is wide open.
PH: I think plenty of Copper Bleu so that speaks volumes for Master Of Arts (Pipe’s horse).
HF: I’ve laid Walkon and Ebadiyan and I like Starluck and Master Of Arts.


PN: Last year was incredible and very fortunate to get the 1-2-3. Kauto Star is much more
himself this year, he’s fit and well and fresh and he looks great. Drying ground is a big
plus. Last year took too much out of Denman, he was steaming for 2 hours after the race
which you don’t see very often. He’s had no operation, despite it being reported that he
did, but he was drugged and that knocked him sideways. He has improved since Kempton
and he worked really well today, more like the Denman of last year and he’s certainly fit
now. The race track will tell us the truth though as he’s not a great worker. Neptune
Collonges is improving but he has to, a career best is needed.
HF: Denman was a gone horse jumping the last twelve months ago, it left a massive scar. I
don’t think we’ll ever see the real Denman ever again. Grand National talk was complete
rubbish. I don’t think he’s even a certainty to run in the Gold Cup.
PN: I think he’ll run but it’s so hard to tell with what he’s like at home.
DP: Being realistic, it’s going to be tough for Madison De Berlais but he deserves to take
his chance. Riding him more positively has had a real impact on him and he’s improved to
give him place credentials.
AK: Kauto is obvious. Madison should be bigger as the Kempton form isn’t worth anything,
he won the race by default. Albertas Run e/w on decent ground is the call.
HF: I won’t have an opinion if Denman runs or not, I’ll leave it to Paul.
PN: It will be left to Sir Robert Ogden’s team to decide if Star De Mohaison runs or not.

The panel were then asked for their ‘value’ bets of the meeting…

PN: The Nightingale (Ballymore Properties)
AK: Bensalem (Albert Bartlett)
DP: Consigliere (Grand Annual on soft or Jewson / Festival Plate otherwise)
PH: Snap Tie (Champion Hurdle)
HF: Aachen, trained by Venetia Williams (County Hurdle)

Plenty of reading there Spidey, cheers for that. Will try and note whats said at our preview night on Thursday but in all honesty, if you listen to enough people you’ll eventually convince yourself any one of 5 horses could win any race.

On a side note, Colm Murphy has booked Choc Thornton to ride Big Zeb. He has an entry in the Ryanair but presume it would be for the Queen Mother? Thornton is hardly going to give up his ride on VPU in the Ryanair?

I fooking hope not! I’ve two ton on Voy Por at 7/4 from last week. He’s now 11/8. More horses will come out of the Ryanair betting. Big Zeb hopefully going in the Champiuon for prize money.

Thats what I’d assume anyway. I like VPU a lot but think he could be the lay of the festival at that price.

Oliver Brady - the big ledge

Cheltenham Preview Night, Glencarn Hotel, Castleblaney Co Monaghan. (last week of Feb 09)
Proceeds split between The Shabra Foundation and Cancer Research.

Panel; Dermot Weld DW, Oliver Brady OB, Dessie Mc Donogh DMCD, John Cullen JC, Mark Walsh
MW, Don Mc Clean DMCC, Frank Berry FB, Paddy Power PP, Dave Keen DK.
Host; Matt Chapman

First of all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable night. People came with the expectation of humour and craic, and
they got it from start to finish. Oliver and his team put together an outstanding night of fundraising built in
around the racing preview. He had a race night, an auction race which raised close to €6000, an auction, as
well as raffles and prizes galore. The atmosphere was relaxed, and the evening kicked off with 3 races from
the race night, before the panel were introduced. The host for the night, Attheraces own Matt Chapman, was
at his brilliant best, with a typically over the top performance that best suited the occasion. I think a quieter
host would have taken away from the night. Chapman introduced the panel with his usual gusto, including
falling to his knees before Dermot Weld, commentating on a finish as John Cullen came up the steps, and
describing Dessie Mc Donagh as the best sire in the country, having given us “The Enforcer”.
Brady and Chapman worked well off each other all night. Oliver regaled the crowd with stories of past
glories, and it was worth the entrance fee alone to hear the man. The preview included the showing a short
film of the main contenders, followed by Chapman asking the panels views. From a punters point of view, I
didn’t really learn much from the night, but I was there for the enjoyment. Anyone with the idea of going to a
Cheltenham preview night and coming home with their cards marked is sadly mistaken. It was craic we went
for, and its craic we got. During the preview night, Chapman was interrupted by Brady to tell him he had a
special guest there to meet him. Sure enough, large as life, Pablo was led in through an emergency exit,
paraded across in front of the stage, and out the side door. Oliver is adamant that he will get a win out of
Pablo soon.
And so onto the racing. Il just do a brief summary of each race, and make any more points at the very end.

Supreme Novices Hurdle
FB confirmed that JP has indeed bought Karabak and he will be running in the Ballymore rather than the
With hurricane fly ruled out the panel were more or less unanimous that Cousin Vinny would be very hard to
beat. They didn’t see him being the price he is now on that day, and reckoned hed go off a warm fav. Of the
rest Torphichen has been nominated as the alternative.

Arkle Trophy
JC said he wouldn’t swap follow the plan for anything. Also said that Tatenen had everything in his favour the
last day and that he cant have him at all. Interestingly, DMCD spoke highly of Kalahari King. He said that
Graham Lee who he is still in contact with had told him he is very sweet on this one, and he seen him as a
decent bet. DW said it was a very week renewal, and a no bet race.

Champion Hurdle
Most of the talk was about Binocular, some saying he was a good thing, some saying there is something to
beat him, none of them knew what though!! Interestingly, FB said he liked Osana out of all the horses. JC put
up Brave Inca as one hed like to ride other than the Favourite. PP said he thought fav would win, but they
would be out to get him.

Ballymore Novices Hurdle
Karabak was well touted by all for this. JC did make the point however that Ruby thinks the world of Mikael
D’Haguenet, “could be as good as Florida Pearl”, and that the horse has serious gears. Cape Tribulation was
put up as an ew bet by both DW and OB.

R&S Novices Chase
DMCC said he felt the fav was weak. Was swaying towards Cooldine but was worried about the horse
having a hard race last time out. Matt Chapman was keen on Gone to Lunch, pushed FB on jockey
arrangements, he said Wichita would be going to the William Hill most probably over the 4 miler, and
wouldn’t be running in this.Casey Jones was well touted as having a good ew chance as well.

Champion Chase
Only one winner, Master Minded. Only real opinion was Chapman, says Big Zeb wont win if he starts today.
One other point made was for Well Chief, if he came back within a stone of his best he would place. PP
made the point for ew punters, to back him now as the race might cut up to 6 or 7 runners.

Champion Bumper
One of the more interesting races discussed. Nobody knows what the best of mullins is, MW said the lads in
the yard told him Sicilian Secret. DMCD was keen on Welds Rite of Passage that had won last weekend. DW
was asked about him, said hed have a great chance, thinks a lot of him, and that he also thinks the world of
a horse hel have out this weekend, Universal Truth, who could be backed at 33/1 for Cheltenham. I wouldn’t
be surprised if that one is better………
JC said he fancies Phillip Fentons, who reckons it’s the best hes ever sat on or had.

Ryanair Chase
FB reckons the banker of the meeting is Voy Pur Ustedes. Nobody really argued with him, Imperial
commander was put up as an ew alternative, but no real strong case against he fav.

World Hurdle
Chapman thinks it should be , banker of the meeting for him. PP, DMcC the same. DmcC put up Tazbar as
an ew alternative to the fav, felt he would run a massive race.

Triumph Hurdle
Given the location and the organisers, its not hard to know what horse was talked about. In fairness to the
lads, they put all their bias aside, and made a rational argument for Ebadiayn. JC reckons he will benefit from
the course, and the gallop at Cheltenham. DMCD says he really likes the horse. OB says he has left a little to
work on, and he thinks hel win. I don’t know if it was a case of nobody dared to disagree, but nobody did.
They all agreed the horse had a serious chance.

Gold Cup
Chapman still likes Denman, DMCD says he didn’t think the horse looked well when he last ran, and seen
him on telly the other day and still didn’t like the look of him. Rest of the panel were against Denman. Some
of them don’t think Kuato will get home, they think last years race has put them off Kuato round there.
Barbers Shop was well touted by DMCC who also put up Air force one as an ew bet, and liked Madison de
Berlais. .FB says it will be Kuato Star, Exotic Dancer, Neptunes Collonges 1,2,3. PP went for Exotic Dancer.
nd so onto the charity bets at the end of the night, Chapman asked them for their naps and a lay each.
They were given €250 for their naps by PP.

Mark Walsh NAP Cousin Vinny
Lay Diamond Harry

John Cullen NAP Ebadiyan, Mikael D’haugnet
Lay None

Don Mc Clean NAP Barber Shop
Lay Binocular

Dave Keen NAP Follow the plan, Quevega

Frank Berry NAP L’ami
Lay Denman

Dessie Mc Donagh NAP Rite of Passage
Lay Cooldine

Paddy Power NAP Voy pur Ustedes
Lay Diamond Harry, Kuato Star

Oliver Brady NAP Won in the Dark ew
Lay None

Matt Chapman NAP Kasbah Bliss
Lay What a Friend

Other Points
Dave Keen was bullish about Quevega in the mares race, thinks its could well prove to be a cut above
anything in that division, especially if Whiteoak was to go to the Champion.
Before Dermot Weld left, he was asked to give us 2 horses to watch. He nominated Mad about You on the
22nd of March.
Synchronised was also mentioned as a horse to watch, possibly in the pertemps.

Paddy Power making VPU his nap is enough to turn me off backing the horse.

I agree with John Cullen on his opinions of Mickael D’Haugenaut. I saw him working about 3 weeks ago, and he is a machine.

Kasabah Bliss is porbably still my NAP though, but that may change.

Was reading on the BF forum that Cullen has lost the McKiernan rides. Anyone hear anything more about this?

I know his girlfriend - will try and find out what the scal is. Here’s a preview from Cork:


Monday, March 2nd

The panel comprised of Ruby Walsh (RW) who was his usual direct to-the-point self and held little back, Davy Russell (DR), professional gambler Dave Nevison (DN) who kept things simple and got on with it, trainer Oliver Brady (OB), local journalist Pat Keane (PK) of the Cork Examiner who is well respected in these parts and bookmaker, Paul Cashman (PC) . The evening was chaired by commentator Dessie Scahill (DS) who chipped in with his own thoughts now and again. I have attended over 100 of these events down the years and can say this was the most bizarre, longest and most entertaining preview I have been to.

RW: I ride Kempes who has to improve a lot. I imagine Cousin Vinny runs here and if so he will take all the beating. Physically he has improved from last season and I rate him my banker of the meeting. Torphichen is only a four-year-old, Go Native wont get up the hill and Ainama was shockingly disappointing last time so Micheal Flips looks the best value.
DR: I also like Micheal Flips who won a point-to-point so will be staying on strongly up the hill but will need a cut though. Red Moloney jumps very well and also got a good chance on good ground.
DN: Cousin Vinny is the one to beat of course but I want to back Micheal Flips but want to know if McCoy is on first. I think he is a serious horse. I have heard Ainama may not run which would leave him free if that is the case.
PK: Cousin Vinny is easily the best horse in the race and will be better on good ground which he has not had yet this season.
OB: I have nothing to say on this race but when I have something to say on any race it wont be bulls**t.
PS: We got filled in at 12s with Cousin Vinny after he won at Punchestown last season so is our worst result. Torphichen is the danger and the Pipe won this with a four-year-old in Hors La Loi.
DS: Red Moloney has plenty of class and can run a cracker and is good value at 10/1

RW: There is no future Champion Chaser amongst these. I have ridden and schooled Tatenen but was disappointed he got beat at Leopardstown. I thought he was a hell of a horse earlier in the season (the inference given was that he may not be now). I am not sure what Calgary Bay beat in Kicks For Free as he was well beaten at long odds-on last week, Imsingingtheblues form is not working out, Kalahari King has been winning donkey derbys, Forpadydeplasterer wont win but can be placed. I would say Golden Silver are both too big a price and each-way horses.
DR: I ride Made In Taipan. He is in good order and did a nice canter the other day. Forpadydeplasterer does not like leading at the right time but will be better on good ground though I still dont think he is good enough. Tatenen did not travel well when coming over to Leopardstown so is better than that but I would be worried the ground is not soft enough for him. Kalahari King wants fast ground and has only been winning at gaff tracks but he is the one I fancy most. Follow The Plan wasnt a good enough hurdler for this.
DN: This is possibly a substandard running. As for Tatenens form, I would beat Straw Bear over fences and he has been beaten since getting weight. I have never rated Calgary Bay who has been running in mickey-mouse races, Kalahari Kings trainer doesnt bother with them until the spring and he needs fast ground and I dont think Planet Of Sound is a champion and the value has dried up about him. I am struggling for a bet.
PK: Tatenen was disappointing at Leopardstown so I am a Kalahari King fan and hope he gets close to his good ground. Fourth in the Supreme and the winner at Punchestown last season, he has the class to win.
PC: No one really seems to have a strong opinion so it has been a weak betting race for us.

RW: The owner of Osana wants Andrew McNamara as he felt Tom Scudamore didnt go fast enough on him in last seasons race but it rode very fast so, if that is the case, they are going to go like s**t off a shovel this season and the ground will be watered so will be on the slow side. This could find Binocular out but he is the one to beat though I hope the fast pace will suit me (rides Celestial Halo). Crack Away Jack is a handicapper at best and Jered wont climb up the hill even if it was downhill.
DR: This is the race of the meeting. The only time Binocular has disappointed was when he worked last week and if he wins then The Polomoche (his work partner) is one to follow later in the week. If it came up good I like Sublimity.
DN: Binocular was hardly impressive in his gallop and there are enough negatives to want to back him at 6/4 and think people went too overboard about his Ascot win. I fancy Osana to turn the form around with Celestial Halo as he looked in need of the run at Sandown on his seasonal debut. Ashkazar looked very good at Wincanton and would not rule him out and I think Snap Tie is also overpriced.
OB: I know Sublimity has only been on the horsewalker during all the snow so am not sure he will be fully fit. Won In The Dark is the best outsider if its decent ground.
PK: I do not accept Binocular didnt get up the hill last year, he just didnt get up it as well as Captain Cee Bee but he is no value. I will go for Celestial Halo each-way who in theory can not win but the Champion Hurdle is a law unto itself.
PC: We took a lot of money for Jered early in the season and he is very bad for me.

RW: I have always liked Mikael DHaguenet and thought he was going to beat Pandorama earlier in the season even when the betting suggested otherwise. He is a smashing big horse but whether he will handle the good ground I dont know. Diamond Harry is too wayward but Karabak is as hard as nails. Mad Max was choking his head off last time and even though he has been operated on since, the hill would still be a concern. The softer the better for Mikael but I cant see Willie risking him if it turned up good ground.
DR: I cant have Diamond Harry, he will do something queer. Mikael DHaguenet is the best by a long way and it is safe ground he will win.
DN: I dont like the way Diamond Harry wanders around in small fields and think a more professional horse can beat him. I was immensely impressed with Karabak and he is definitely my preference over Diamond Harry.
OB: Willie will only run Mikael DHaguenet if he is happy with the ground so if he runs then take the hint.
PK: I am praying for rain as Mikael DHaguenet is my banker of the meeting if he runs. At 5/1 he would be some price.
PC: Diamond Harry is very weak and I think he will not start favourite. Mikael DHaguenet could be about 5/2 if he runs.

RW: I have chosen to ride Cooldine. He goes on any ground, stays and is tough and was a much better hurdler than What A Friend. He wasnt so good at the final fence in a school the other day but I wouldnt swap him.
DR: I ride Siegemaster and he is not out of it. He was a lovely jumper earlier in the season (the impression given he is not so now) and he does stay and is in good nick. Gone To Lunch and Casey Jones have squeaks but Cooldine is the one to beat.
DN: I am not sure I will have a bet. I always thought Cooldine was tough and think What A Friend could be the novice chase equivalent of Diamond Harry and could go all over the place.
OB: Siegemaster each-way.
PK: I cant have What A Friend on my mind as his head carriage tells me he wont get up the hill. Cooldines jumping worries me but if he is thereabouts at the last fence I think he will win.
PC: What A Friend has been the big negative with us.

RW: Master Minded is the best 2-miler I have sat on but it is hard to compare against the stayers. He is very uncomplicated and after watching Big Zeb school the other day I wont be following him around.
DR: I think I would have beaten Big Zeb on Mansony last time and rate Mansony a better horse and he would not get close to Master Minded so think Big Zeb wont even be placed. Well Chief is the interesting one if there any positive vibes.
DN: I am going to back Well Chief. Im getting good vibes he is spot on and in a normal year when there is nothing of Master Mindeds class in the race, he is championship class. I dont think Master Minded is past the post yet but at 20/1 I will take my chances.
PK: There is no point getting involved in this race.
PC: Master Minded is a cert. We have had plenty of interest in 6/4 he wins by more than 12 lengths.

RW: I think Willie will run eight, seriously. Sicilian Secret looks the best and I imagine Patrick (Mullins) will ride and Id be lying if I said I knew what was his next best. I liked Rite Of Passage but Dermot Weld has an absolutely deplorable Festival record. Patrick has ridden in a lot of bumpers this season and I know he fears Dunguib.
DR: I ride Some Present for Tom Mullins and he won well at Punchestown. I would choose Shinrock Paddy if I had the choice of the field.
DN: We only run this race so the Irish dont come home crying! Not a clue. I was at Mullins this morning and I dont think he knows either. He did say though that the gallop would have suited Sicilian Secret better than others so maybe he is not as good as he looked on Sunday.
OB: Weld would be a good bluffer so I wouldnt rule out Rite Of Passge.
PK: Mullins has been winning uncompetitive bumpers this season not taking on any Meade or Hales horses but no strong view.
PC: Dunguib is our big loser having been hit at 16s and 12s.

RW: Vor Por Ustedes is a cert. Imperial Commander is a handicapper, Monets Garden gets lost outside of Aintree, Tidal Bay ran like a hairy goat last time, Gwanako needs to improve a lot and Our Vic ran terribly on his only run this season.
DR: Vor Por Ustedes will be hard to beat. Imperial Commander is another track specialist and could give him a fright.
DN: Vor Por Ustedes is the most likely odds-against winner of the week. He is similarly priced to Binocular but so much more solid.
OB: Our Vic each-way.
PK: Vor Por Ustedes loves Cheltenham and wants this trip now so is hard to oppose.

RW: Its a three-horse race. I would be disappointed if I dont beat Punchestowns again on Big Bucks as I think he (Punchestowns) is over-rated. Kasbah Bliss was exceptional at Haydock though and has improved from a Listed horse on the Flat to the verge of Group 1 and has the pace of a Flat horse and the stamina of a jumper. (the impression was firmly left he felt Kasbah Bliss will take all the beating).
DR: Kasbah Bliss is my banker of the meeting. Get as much out of him as you can.
DN: Kasbah Bliss is the second best of the Festival good things at odds-against. Fair Along is a top class handicapper and was not beaten far in the Cleeve so I would be surprised if Kasbah Bliss is not a good deal better than Punchestowns and Big Bucks.
OB: Kasbah Bliss would be great value at 5/4. If I was a pro punter I would be getting stuck in.
PK: Kasbah Bliss is a certainty if Doumen is right that he is a better horse than Baracouda.
PC: Powerstation has been popular each-way given his record of four seconds from four starts at Cheltenham.

RW: I made too much use of Mourad last time so would not be surprised if he reversed with Jumbo Rio and Ebadiyan. I was impressed with Zaynar at Newbury but not sure this is a race to have a bet in.
DR: I hear Zaynar will run in cheekpieces but that is not a plus for a Grade 1 race. Master Of Arts looks classy but Starluck has had easy touches so far. Jumbo Rio could be the best of the Irish.
DN: This is a race for the market leaders now. Zaynar is apparently getting lazier and lazier at home and will drift in-running but I still feel he is the most likely winner.
OB: Ebadiyan worked well last time and, the way I have him, nothing will beat him.

RW: Kauto Star deserves favouritism but I admit he is a bit vulnerable though it is hard to find one to be beat him. Id be amazed if Exotic Dancer beat us. Neptune Collonges was very good in the Hennessy but Exotic Dancer may have beaten me in the Lexus (Neptune fell 2 out when leading) but he always comes on for his first run. You have to question the race Madison Du Berlais won and I though Scus antics were f*****g despicable and will be giving him the two fingers if we beat him.
DR: I cant have Neptune Collonges. Exotic Dancer loves the track and it could just be his year with McCoy on if Kauto Star has another off day.
DN: It will be a bad Gold Cup if Neptune Collonges wins. I am not sure Denman will run so if you write off last season then Kauto Star is the most likely winner. Albertas Run likes Cheltenham and could peak here and is my idea of the best each-way bet of the race.
OB: The Gold Cup will be run on Saturday this season as I will be celebrating Ebadiyans win in the paddock well into the night.
PK: I will not be surprised if Denman does not run and Kauto Star has run below par three times in the last 12 months. Of the Nicholls three, I am sure Neptune Collonges is the one most certain to run his race and is the each-way value of the race.
PC: I will be opposing Kauto Star, it was a funny Gold Cup the year he won it.

RW: Cousin Vinny (banker), Diamond Harry (bismarck)
DR: Kasbah Bliss (banker), Diamond Harry (bismarck)
DN: The Package in Festival Plate (banker), Binocular (bismarck)
OB: Ebadiyan (banker), no bismarck
PK: Mikael DHaguenet (banker), Binocular (bismarck)
PC: Cape Tribulation (banker), Zaynar (bismarck)
DS: Vor Por Ustedes (banker), Diamond Harry (bismarck)